Washington Island welcomes you to Door County's only year-round island community and the largest of Door County’s thirty-four named islands with over 35 beautiful square miles and over 100 miles of roads to explore and enjoy. Your journey to Washington Island begins as you drive or walk onto the ferry and enjoy a scenic five mile route over crystal blue waters with views of the surrounding islands, rocky shores, lush forests, and the serenity that you're seeking in your every day life. You're on "Island Time" now and your hectic pace becomes a distant memory and meaningful "enjoyment" begins.
Our Island community is an experience that blends unique family owned shops, eateries and lodging with a cornucopia of museums, music and theatre events and festivals on a backdrop of Mother Nature’s own canvas of beautiful parks, breathtaking beaches and a host of spaces and places to find your inner treasure.
Or, Do nothing but take in the fresh, clean air and beautiful surroundings and recharge your inner battery, rekindle those relationships with family or friends and find that 'something' you've been missing. There's much to experience here so plan to spend a night or two or more and rest, refresh and enjoy lodging that accommodates the kids, the family pet and or those seeking a romantic getaway.
Come on over! You know you want to make that journey to an experience that is not like everywhere else but a place that has everything you need. We're always open; here when you need us and waiting for your arrival. Welcome to Washington Island - Welcome to our Home!
Southern Door County retains a rural, small-town charm that lets visitors know they are leaving their urban stress behind them. Rolling fields are dotted with distinctive red brick Belgian farmhouses. The Brussels and Namur communities host the country's largest concentration of Belgians, earning Southern Door a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The bayside shoreline features some of the best spring and summer smallmouth bass fishing in the Midwest and superb ice fishing in the winter.
Sturgeon Bay, named Wisconsin's friendliest small town, is the county seat and the only city on the peninsula.
Settled in 1835, its economy originally was based on lumbering. That changed, however, when the canal linking Green Bay and Lake Michigan opened to shipping in 1881.
Clustered along Highway 42 halfway between Sturgeon Bay and Egg Harbor, the tiny community of Carlsville has been small in size but big in spirit throughout the past century and a half.
When Door County was being settled, it was unusual for a community to develop inland, away from the lake or the bay, but that's just what this unincorporated community did.
In 1869, Jacksonport became the last of Door County's communities to be formally organized. Settled in 1848 as a lumber town, the community was named after Andrew Jackson, a logger and prominent business owner in the community.
In October 1848, a cargo ship loaded with lumber and carrying several passengers left Racine, bound for Detroit. That evening the ship, commanded by Capt. Justin Bailey, encountered a violent storm. Buffeted by high winds and heavy rain, the ship pitched and rolled in the angry Lake Michigan waters. Concerned for his passengers and cargo, Bailey kept watch for a place in which to ride out the storm. Late that night he found a quiet cove where he could drop anchor until the storm passed and his journey could be resumed.
That act of nature assured Capt. Justin Bailey a measure of immortality; the village that sprung up there the following year was called Baileys Harbor.
There are several conflicting stories about how Egg Harbor got its name. One of the favorites, however, has to do with an incident that allegedly occurred in 1825, 28 years before the village was founded and 36 years before it gained official status.
As the story goes, six boats owned by Pierce Roulette, a French fur trader, were headed for Mackinac Island. Along with other supplies, the boats carried a large number of eggs. One day, Commodore Roulette ordered the paddlers to put ashore for lunch in a sheltered cove.
Traditionally, the commodore's boat led the others. This time, however, another boat took the lead. The commodore ordered the other boat to fall back, but the paddlers refused. Then, the story goes, the crew of Roulette's boat began throwing eggs at the other boat. That boat's crew retaliated and soon both boats and their crews were covered with raw eggs.
Fish Creek founder, Increase Claflin, moved his family north from Sturgeon Bay following a frightening confrontation between his son-in-law and local Indians.
Although Claflin was the first settler, Asa Thorp is regarded as the man who founded the village. By 1853 Thorp owned much of the land in the Fish Creek area and had begun building a pier from which he could sell cord wood to Lake Michigan steamers.
The beauty that held Claflin and Thorp in thrall claims today's visitors to Fish Creek as well. The entrance to Peninsula State Park is located in the village. Within its 3,700 acres is located Claflin Point, the site of the settler's cabin. The breathtaking view of the bay from Weborg Point makes it easy to see why he chose to live here.
In the spring of 1853, 40 Norwegian Moravians, led by the Rev. Andrew Iverson, settled the area around Eagle Harbor. The hardy pioneers named their community Ephraim, a biblical term that means fruitful.
Sister Bay, Door County's largest community north of Sturgeon Bay, was settled in 1857 by Norwegian immigrants. Originally two communities, Big Sister Bay and Little Sister Bay, the Village of Sister Bay was formally created in 1912. From 1859 until 1912 both communities were governed by the Town of Liberty Grove.
Washington Island welcomes you to Door County's only year-round island community and the largest of Door County's thirty-four named islands with over 35 beautiful square miles and over 100 miles of roads to explore and enjoy.
Northern Door County hosts an abundance of wonder, artistic gusto and some of the most breathtaking scenery around. The "Top of the Thumb" is highlighted by the communities of Ellison Bay, Rowleys Bay and Gills Rock. These three communities share much in terms of charm but each offers sights and activities that distinguish it from the others.
Ellison Bay was founded in 1858 under the principles of hard work, creativity, strong families and love. These principles can still be seen in the shops, artistic presence, outdoor activities and the general demeanor of the folks in the community. After enjoying the variety of downtown restaurants and shops, be sure to visit Ellison Bluff County Park, which boasts awe-inspiring views from as high as 200 feet above the shoreline.